An out-of-place artifact (OOPA, OOPa, or OOPart) is any object displaying evidence of a technology that, according to uniformitarian or related paradigms, ought not exist in the particular geologic stratum in which it rests. The existence of OOParts is one of the most troubling controversies for archaeology today.
History of OOParts
The report in 1572 of a six-inch nail found in Peru and presented to the Viceroy of Peru as a gift might be the oldest OOPart report on record. More than eighty OOParts have been alleged since then.
The significance of a six-inch nail is simply this: the Incas, who inhabited Peru before Francisco Pizarro conquered it, did not nail their monuments together. The Incas did use metal, but did not make nails out of it. That is why the nail would be anachronistic to Inca culture.
Types of OOParts
The OOParts fall into three main categories:
- Evidence of modern or even more-advanced technology from either an ancient culture (e.g. the Saqqara Bird in Egypt) or a location in a geologic stratum regarded as far too deep to be contemporary with man.
- Fossilized human remains. The alleged lack of such remains is one of the most common reasons cited to discount the Flood account.
- Evidence of dinosaur-human cohabitation on earth. This varies from ancient artwork depicting creatures supposedly not discovered until centuries later, to side-by-side human and dinosaur tracks. The Acambaro figurines are a prize example of this sort of OOPart.
Modern technology in ancient times
These artifacts are found among other artifacts of an ancient culture. The difference between these and the other artifacts among which they are found is that they represent a technology that the civilization under study was not supposed to have. They include:
- The Baghdad Battery, an apparently spent dry cell in a six-inch yellow clay pot, found in the Baghdad Museum in 1938.
- The Dendera Tubes. More specifically, these are images on an Egyptian bas-relief of tube-like structures in the hands of Egyptian priests or acolytes. At least one electrical engineer has stated that the objects depicted in that bas-relief are Crookes tubes, which were the forerunners of the cathode-ray tubes still in common use in television receivers.
- The Ashoka Pillar in Delhi, India. This wrought-iron shaft supposedly dates to an Indian king who died in 413 AD. The metal, which ought to have crumbled into rust long ago, remains in excellent condition.
- The Antikythera Computer, a geared structure recovered in 1900 from the wreck of a merchant vessel that, to judge from the other cargo it carried, apparently sank sometime between 85 BC and 50 BC. This object was a highly sophisticated and easy-to-use orrery that predicted the annual motions of the sun and moon in the earth's sky. (Note: Recent evidence suggests that it could have been a product of the post-Alexandrian civilization that flourished in the second century BC, mentioning as it does certain athletic competitions that were of strictly local interest during that period and since forgotten.)
- The Saqqara Bird, a seven-inch object, first thought to be a bird figurine, but then recognized as a model airplane. This was found in 1898 in the tomb of Pa-Di-Imen and dates to 200 BC.
- An Inca pendant, dated from 500 to 800 AD, that turns out to be a model of a high-speed aircraft, possibly a jet. More remarkably, the object's apparent rudder fin bears an engraved Hebrew or Aramaic letter beth.
- The Crystal Skull of Lubaantum (Belize), a 7-inch-long skull cut from a single piece of clear quartz found among Mayan ruins in 1927. The artisan who fashioned it evidently cut the quartz against the axis of crystallization, a feat no modern jeweler could possibly accomplish without shattering the quartz into fine dust. Moreover, even if the artisan could have accomplished the against-the-grain cut, he cannot have used any metal tools, because his work bears no scratch marks. Analysts have concluded that the production of this artifact would have required 300 man-hours using any conceivable modern method—again, if anyone could have cut the quartz against the grain without shattering it. (One must also wonder what sort of culture would see something as morbid as a skull as an article of jewelry, much less exert such technological effort to produce such an object.)
- The Cabrera Stones. These are 20,000 stones that appear to be illustrations from a medical textbook. The surgical techniques depicted in these illustrations rival or even far surpass any surgical techniques in use today, and even include encephalic transplantation.
Modern technology in deep time
These are artifacts buried in geological strata where no artifact of any human civilization, ancient or modern, ought to exist, or at the very least are in strata that are supposed to be older than the oldest written records.
- The Bullet-Punctured Skull of Zambia, a human cranium, supposedly of the paleolithic era, that bears evidence that the person involved was shot to death with a rifle. Local geological evidence indicates (by uniformitarian standards) that the skull is 38,000 years old.
- The Wonderstone Spheroids, now numbering 200 or more, found in a silver mine in South Africa. They are of a nickel-steel alloy that cannot have occurred outside a laboratory or a steel mill. Nor could they be meteoric; the composition does not match that of any meteorite thus far found. A museum curator has observed one of these spheroids rotating within its setting, apparently under its own power. Yet the miners who excavated these spheroids found them in a stratum that, according to uniformitarianism, ought to be 3 billion years old.
- A brass bell with an iron clapper, found in a lump of coal. Uniformitarians commonly insist that all the coal in the world formed 280 to 300 million years ago.
- An iron pot found within a lump of coal in Thomas, Oklahoma. The same consideration applies to this object as applies to the bell mentioned above.
- The London Hammer, a hammer found in limestone in the Cretaceous stratum, supposedly 140 million years old.
- An obvious notch, made with an ax, in a lump of petrified wood in the Petrified Forest of Arizona, USA.
Fossilized human remains, especially any such remains found buried in deep time, are among the most striking evidences against the uniformitarian model.
- A fossilized human finger found in the Cretaceous Walnut Formation of the Commanche Peak limestone deposit. The in situ provenance of the finger is lacking. But if this object proves genuine, then it might represent long-sought remains of a casualty of the Global Flood.
- Skulls and other bones found within coal.
- Malachite Man, consisting of the remains of ten individuals in a supposed 140-million-year-old stratum. Some of the bones have been partially petrified with malachite, a peculiar greenish mineral. Petrified human bones would be even more likely to represent Flood casualties.
These are artifacts, artworks, or physical signs that humans and dinosaurs walked the earth together.
- Stone depictions of stegosaurus in Khmer temple art.
- Clay figurines of obvious dinosaurs found at Acambaro, Mexico.
- The Paluxy River tracks near Glen Rose, Texas, USA. Tracks of Tyrannosaurus rex and other dinosaurs are found side-by-side with human footprints. Some of these human footprints are giant sized.
- Human shoe prints found associated with trilobites.
To conceive of anything being "out of place" requires a concept of the "proper place" of any technological artifact or fossil. For most OOParts now known, that concept depends on geological uniformitarianism and the related concept of deep time, because these artifacts were recovered from a geologic stratum allegedly millions of years old. For others, the concept of "technological place" depends on the widely-held concept of the linear development of cultures. Thus, for example, the Egyptians are not supposed to have developed any of the flight sciences, while the Saqqara Bird suggests that they, or else some other civilization that once held the land where Egypt now stands, did—centuries before Leonardo Da Vinci would speculate on building a flying machine, let alone before Orville and Wilbur Wright would demonstrate their own prototype. And a fossil is out-of-place if it is buried in an unexpected stratum or in association with other organisms that are not supposed to be contemporary with it, according to current understandings of evolution.
Archaeologists normally expect a few OOParts that violate the linear-development paradigm. The history of the world is replete with examples of cultures conquering other cultures but not preserving all of the technological knowledge that the conquered had developed or amassed. The fall of the Roman Empire is an obvious example. So one might expect to find artifacts in lands that Rome once occupied that are more technologically advanced than the artifacts of the Middle Ages. Still, the artifacts thus found are not truly out-of-place if they reflect the technology that the former occupiers had. But the Inca nail suggests a culture that would not occupy the land until centuries later than the period of the Spanish Empire. Furthermore, the crystal skull of Belize bespeaks a technology that far surpasses any that mankind possesses even today.
The finding of OOParts in deep-time-associated geologic strata is even more difficult to explain. Such findings have engendered feverish speculation and present several striking dilemmas for archaeologists, geologists, and evolutionists.
OOParts can be only one of three things, and each possibility has its devoted champions:
- The artifacts involved either are forgeries, are subject to misinterpretation due to underestimation of the technology of any given culture, or represent modern artifacts introduced into an archaeological or paleontological dig by accident.
- The artifacts were placed in their respective locations by extraterrestrial scouts or soldiers in an earlier visit to, or occupation of, the Earth.
- The artifacts are those of antediluvian, or pre-Flood, civilization.
The best argument against the forgery/misinterpretation/accident possibility is the sheer number of such artifacts. In addition, some of the arguments advanced to discredit some of these artifacts raise more questions than they pretend to answer. For example, when Talk.Origins says that a mineworker carried an iron pot into a coal mine and then dropped it so that someone else would find it later, they cannot explain why the mineworker would have such a pot as part of his equipment.
Those who believe that extraterrestrial scouts once visited the Earth frequently try to connect the OOParts with such scouting crews. But their argument has two problems:
- Recent evidence suggests that the Earth and the solar system are very special places, that almost had to be designed with human life in mind. Indeed the galaxy wherein we reside might have no other place within it that would be hospitable even to a bacterium or a blue-green alga, much less to an ET shipwright, admiral, or "swift boat skipper." To be more specific, the galaxy probably has a very thin "habitable zone" that might be no broader than the range between the perigalacticon and apogalacticon of the Sun's orbit. And even within that range, a habitable world might not be possible outside the relatively sparsely populated region in which the Sun resides.
- Many of the artifacts found (like the crystal skull of Belize) do represent a stunningly advanced technology. Others, however, represent a technology no more advanced than that of any civilization in existence as of the early twenty-first century, or even the middle twentieth. Why, then, would an ET "swift boat crew" bring an ordinary dry-cell battery with them? Surely one would expect their equipment to represent the same sort of far-advanced culture that could support and mount an expedition from one star to another.
This leaves the third possibility, that the artifacts found in geologic strata are in fact clues to the technology of pre-Flood man. If one abandons uniformitarianism, then one can readily interpret the entire geologic column as flood silt. The artifacts then would represent clues to the highest level of technological advancement that Noah had to work with when he designed and built his Ark. That level might be far higher than Bible scholars have previously assumed, and would go far to answering many of the technological objections that some have raised to the story of how anyone could even build a wooden cargo ship more than 165 meters long, much less how such a ship could ride through the onslaught of a wall of water 1.5 to 2.0 kilometers high and then stay afloat for more than a year.
Early post-Flood cultures did not, of course, develop with more than a fraction of the technologies that OOParts represent. Some technologies, like the one responsible for the crystal skull of Belize, remain far beyond the capabilities of modern civilizations. To answer this objection, the novelist Shane Johnson, in his novel Ice, reminded his readers that most end-users of any given technology would never be able to reinvent those technologies even if asked or somehow forced by circumstance. The Global Flood destroyed every civilization then extant, and in the process destroyed or buried deep all traces of antediluvian technology—and the Bible nowhere credits Noah, Shem, Ham, or Japheth with any particular technological prowess outside of their obvious signal achievement in shipbuilding.
- "Embedded Anomalies: Evidence of Civilization Before the Accepted Creation Timeline." The Bible-UFO Connection, accessed March 31, 2008
- Hodges, Bodie. "The Flood: Whom Do You Trust?" Lecture delivered at the Creation Museum and Family Discovery Center, Petersburg, Kentucky, USA, March 28, 2008.
- Jochmans, Joseph R., PhD. "Top 10 Out-Of-Place Artifacts." Atlantis Rising, Issue 5 (Sep-Oct 1996). Now hosted by Jeff Rense. Accessed March 31, 2008.
- Marchant J, "World's first computer may be even older than thought," New Scientist, 29 July 2009.
- "OOParts and Ancient High Technology: Evidence of Noah's Flood?" Accessed March 31, 2008.
- "Ooparts (Out of Place Artifacts)." Discovery News. Accessed March 31, 2008.
- Lines, David. "The Fossilized Human Finger." Creation Evidence Museum online, 1995. Accessed March 31, 2008.
- Conrad, Ed. "Man as Old as Coal." Accessed March 31, 2008.
- Patton, Don. "Official World Site Malachite Man." The Interactive Bible. Accessed March 31, 2008.
- Patton, Don, and Swift, Dennis. "Dinosaurs in ancient Cambodian temple." The Interactive Bible. Accessed March 31, 2008.
- "Discovered: Thousands of Dinosaur Figurines from Mexico." Accessed March 31, 2008.
- Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, p. 122.
- Brown, Walt. "In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood." Phoenix, AZ: Center for Scientific Creationism, 1995, p. 25. Accessed March 31, 2008.
- Johnson, Shane. Ice: The Greatest Truths Hide in the Darkest Shadows. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Waterbrook Press, 2002. 395 pages, paperback. ISBN 1578565480. The plot-theme of this novel includes the discovery of what would, if found, be the most incredible OOPart to date.
- Human footprints have been found with dinosaur tracks at Paluxy (Talk.Origins)
- Sandal footprints have been found associated with trilobites (Talk.Origins)
- Malachite man was found in Cretaceous sandstone (Talk.Origins)
- Iron pot in coal (Talk.Origins)